This week, a couple of reflections on love
and change in the personal life.
The first reflection is this: true love is not dead, just resurrected.
The second one is below:
The other day I read a story about weeds and Jesus. And then a day or so later, I received an email from the gardener who grows the produce and flowers I harvest weekly while in Illinois. The two stories were essentially the same message (although the former was really about the spiritual life): leave the weeds in the field because it disrupts the good that is there, so take heart and have patience until the time is right.
Note: The bold in the text below is mine.
The story about weeds and Jesus goes like this: Jesus was at a lake, a ton of people gathered around him, so he got in a boat and shared the following story to those on shore:
"The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?'
'An enemy did this,' he replied.
The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?'
'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time, I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'" (Matthew chapter 13, verses 24-30)
"The thunderstorm that hit us around 5 this morning and left us with about 2" of rain that we really did not need felt a little bit like adding insult to injury. When I did finally get out of the house to look around at the gardens, the paths were slick and there was water standing everywhere but there had been a lot of growth; the outdoor tomatoes are well above the tops of the cages, the tithsonia are gigantic, the climbing beans have filled in their trellis and are looking for new space.
The weeds have grown too, of course. I would be ashamed of the state of the gardens if there had been anything that we could have done differently, but really we've had no recourse. Soggy soils can't be worked (cultivated or prepared for planting) without causing real structural damage. Direct seeded crops have failed to germinate, once-healthy crops have rotted in place and dozens of trays of healthy seedlings have simply been dumped because there has been no place for them to go. But more damaging in the long term, is the fact that some of the toughest and most persistent weeds have laid down carpets of seeds in beds that we've fought to keep clear for years."
A few verses later, when the crowds left, Jesus' close friends huddled around him and said essentially--okay, now tell us the real story. So Jesus went on to unpack the meaning of the parable for those that missed it. He makes the analogy between the field, the plants, and weeds and the world, good, and evil. Good and evil have to co-exist in the world until there is a time when things are mature and ripe, like at a harvest time for a gardener (or simply a dry season for him), so that the good is not uprooted in the process or the wheat (or land) destroyed.
Just a note: I see this perspective as having great compassion and wisdom, knowing a deeper truth: if you uproot the system, the good is overturned too and then the whole lot is a mess. I can't help but draw a comparison to war: refrain from going to war to ultimately save a greater number of lives (and land and environment for years to come) than if we try and "target" a few. I think it also behooves Christians who do claim to trust god to actually trust this God rather than take matters into our own novice hands with our own limited perspectives. There is something to be made of courageous prayer and humble confession while trusting the wisdom of the One who knows and leads.
But I think there is also another lesson to be understood which falls within the meaning of the parable and within the way Jesus understands the heart. If Jesus was explaining the macro-level of good and evil in the world, this may be seen as a micro-level of meaning:
The full field, healthy plants and the persistent weeds are akin to one's heart, the good, and the sin (woundedness). The good and the not good tango together under the soil. These differences influence and nourish our motivations which, in turn, produce choice and action with a certain gradation of integrity (or lack thereof). Because both sources reside in the same locale, if one attempts to obliterate evil, it rids both evil and good in the heart because they both reside in the same location. And again, because of the great mercy of the Gardener--he waits patiently for the right time and the right way to harvest the good. He knows that bombing the hell out of evil kills us. (I don't know if we humans really understand this quite yet; or I'll just speak for myself here.)
Elsewhere in the holy scriptures, Jesus teaches and encourages us to let our hearts drink from the well of Living Water; water that will actually quench our thirsts and longings. Life--true life--is what happens beneath the surface, beneath the soil, in the garden-bed of our hearts and then which spring forth from it (John 4:7-13). But in the meantime, all of the wounds that have been inflicted on us are now ours, just like a rotten carrot is a rotten carrot not the tons of rain sitting on the soil (though surely the rain caused the disintegration of life). The anger or rage, manipulation or envy, control or want, greed or sloth, denial or pride--these seeds of motivations need to be left alone, so the Gardener and the person can allow the ways to wither and die through the spirit, letting the living water nourish the holiness in each living creature while the seeds of destruction and despair (which might have blown into our garden-beds but are now in our garden-beds) be left alone with time. (I think they can only be left alone when their presence is first acknowledged, then accepted, then relinquished.)
And if we have the spirit of Life in us and we find we're in a troubled season, perhaps there are so many storms pouring down (or we're in a Californian drought), we go to Life and we wait. We wait patiently for the Lord who encourages us to see how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable fruits and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains (James 5:7-8) (or for them to dry up) while being enlivened by his very spirit to grow in Life. We allow for the Gardener to, in his right time, till the land--till our hearts--with his great compassion and delicate care for we are precious to him and his love is great!